⭐️Belonging is a two-way conversation.
Students listening to music to identify similes and metaphors. A child using a balance board to focus on a difficult Orton-Gillingham phoneme task. Kids engaged in deep breathing. This is a day in Anna Siegel’s 5th grade Language classroom.
It may seem like a typical 5th grade classroom, but under the surface you’ll discover how Carroll educators intentionally create a culture of learning—so every child sees themselves as a skillful student.
It starts with relationships and trust. For the first two months of school, Ms. Siegel plans activities that create connections. “We share our stories with each other. I open up about my ADHD and confide that sometimes I get distracted by things happening around me. I model how I will advocate for myself when that happens.”
Classroom rules are written together, creating a sense of ownership and belonging. “I strive to design a safe space where students feel comfortable making mistakes, asking for support, and understanding what they need.”
Talking about it is one thing, but teaching students to advocate for themselves and each other takes time. “We read many books about people with learning differences. We discuss—and celebrate—differences. Students can grab a ‘call a friend’ Popsicle stick when they need help. I try to eliminate any stigmas around making mistakes or asking for help.”
“If a kid says, ‘I am so bad at math.’ Instead of reinforcing that negative thought, I reframe it. We’ll talk about what was hard about the lesson and we brainstorm what would make math feel better.”
As students begin to see themselves as learners, that’s when we can really start gec’ing (giving each child what they need).
“A mantra at Carroll is ‘we go as fast as we can, but as slow as necessary’ and this is what makes Carroll shine above other schools,” Anna shared. “I recently planned a weeklong lesson on figurative language. The class struggled with the concept. So, we dove into more relatable lessons: searching for similes and metaphors in music and videos, creating similes/metaphor symbols about ourselves using art, etc. Having the time and permission to help students master a skill before moving on, that is why I love teaching at Carroll.”
“Belonging isn’t fitting in. It’s accepting each other for who we are, including all our challenges and differences. When students feel like they belong, that’s when they can see themselves as skillful students and in control of their own learning.”
About Me Metaphor & Simile Art Project
5th Grade Student
The project is all about me using similes and metaphors.
- First, I painted my background with watercolors. I picked my favorite colors—pinks, purples, blues, and greens.
- Then, I wrote similes and metaphors to describe myself. I like to cook and play basketball and soccer so I included statements about those things. "My brain is as big and long as the deep sea."
- Finally, I put it all together with my photo in the center.
This project was so much fun—I got to make art and learn to write more descriptively.
This article is part of a series from Carroll Connection 23-24: The Belonging Issue
- Carroll Connection 2023-24